1788 12th April
On this day, died greatly regretted by his numerous relatives and friends, Mr Charles Whittuck of Hanham Hall in the 86th year of his life in whom the poor have lost asympathetic friend and bountiful benefactor and society a very valuable and useful member who truly merited the character of an honest man and a sincere Christian.
Last Wednesday, a horse driver called at a coalwork called Hall Lane, near Warmley in Kingswood and whilst the filler was measuring some coal to him, the horse bolted and knocked the horse-driver to the ground killing him on the spot.
On Saturday night two colliers were fighting at a public house in Kingswood, both of them in liquor, when one of them received an unlucky blow which killed him on the spot.
The other was immediately apprehended and taken to the gaol.
Henry Watts sued William Luton in respect of the rights of Common Land upon Rodway Hill in the parish of Mangotsfield.
George Flook, "killed in a coalpit" was buried at Mangotsfield.
The accident was reported on 30th August: George Fluke, a collier of Kingswood unfortunately lost his life when the ground under which he was at work in a coalpit gave way and fell in on him.
Friday, a young man very much in liquor ( drunk ) belonging to Two Mile Hill, in attempting to get from behind a post -chaise near Stapleton, his buckle hitched in one of the spikes which threw him upon his head, fracturing his skull and he was found dead by a waggoner who passed soon after.
Betty Wilkins, a servant of Mr G. Robbins, miller of Willsbridge died in suspicious circumstances.
The coroner was called and her body was opened.
There was as expected, a large quantity of arsenic in her stomach.
She was also pregnant.
"Although a married woman, she had not lived with her husband for sometime and being pregnant as supposed to some other man it is thought that was the cause of her committing this rash act".
The verdict was "feb de se"- that is "self-murder" and she was ordered to be buried not in the consecrated ground of the churchyard but at the cross roads.
( Presumably with a stake driven through her heart ). It is worth comparing Betty's terrified solution with those of other women similarly placed ( see l784, 1794, 1795 ) in a society where unwanted pregnancy was "a fate worse than death".
John Henderson, born near Limerick in 1757, the son of Richard Henderson who kept the boarding school and later the lunatic asylum in Hanham, was a pupil at John Wesley's school of such precocity that by the age of eight he was able to recite text books and was teaching Latin instead of being instructed! At twelve he was sent to Trevecca in Brecon to teach Latin and Greek to sons of the preachers of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connection.
Returning to Hanham two years later, he kept up his studies in languages and science "to gratify his thirst for knowledge of every kind".
Dr. Tucker, Dean of Gloucester became his patron and offered to finance his entry to Oxford University.
John entered Pembroke College in 1781, where he studied Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, Italian and German, together with Latin and Greek and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Unfortunately, he appears to have taken rather too readily to another aspect of student life.
( Perhaps simply because he had not played as a boy, he began to play as a man ? ) Visited by Hannah More in the company of Dr Johnson in 1782, she complained he was uncouth, his hair untidy and long, his shoe buckles absent.
He protested that she was "modelling me that I may be made like a gentleman", and told her, "Do not command me to be genteel it no way suits me".
She thought he was taking opium and was sadly correct.
In what seems to have been a total religious crisis, he began to study alchemy, astrology, magic and spiritualism, claiming communication with the dead.
He refused to enter the church or study medicine, choosing instead to spend his days smoking and drinking.
He died this day aged 31 and was buried at St George on 8th November.
His distraught father, refusing to believe he was dead caused the grave to be re-opened.
Wesley, then aged 86, walked from Kingswood to Hanham to comfort the older Henderson.
He wrote: "I spent some time with poor Richard Henderson, deeply affected with the death of his only son who with as great and good talents as most men in England, had lived two and thirty years and had done just nothing".
In the following years, the Hanham hospital moved to Cleeve Hill but Richard Henderson was never the same.
He was buried February 14th, 1792, also at St George at the age of 55.
His third wife Mary later advertised "business as usual".
A Quack Doctor's Advertisement:
"I Ann Fudge of the parish of St George, 4 miles from Bristol was afflicted with the stone, stoppage of urine and a complication of other disorders.
I applied to Dr. Brunswick for relief and after a short time he made a perfect cure of me".
Another of the same: "I Samuel Rogers, collier of the parish of Bitton have been afflicted with the Dropsy for seven years, a little by degrees and it hath swelled all over my body.
I tried several Gentlemen of the Faculty for relief without success but seeing of Doctor Brunswick's arrival in Bristol, I applied to him and in four weeks he made a perfect cure of me without Tapping, bringing the Swelling down by internal medicines only.
The truth of the above may be known by applying to me or any other person in Bitton, the place where I live.
1789 28 February
Monday last, Joseph Green, a collier at Coalpit Heath was blown into a pit by a sudden gust of wind and killed on the spot.
George Fry was killed in a coalpit and buried at Mangotsfield.
Last week was fought at Kingswood, a curious battle between Philip James, a day labourer and John Wright, a cobbler.
The former has but one arm, the latter one leg.
The quarrel arose concerning a female.
They fought for twenty minutes amidst an immense concourse of people.
At last the battle terminated in favour of James, owing to a lucky blow by which Wright fell and put out his elbow.
The son of Thomas Yates, accountant and his wife Mary was found drowned at the Lower Ironworks, late the Coalworks, at Wick and buried at Wick & Abson. ( The same Thomas would die by accident 9 years later, falling from his horse. )
John Tanner, the son of James was killed in a coalpit and buried at Westerleigh.
( The father of this boy would later be killed himself. See 15th February, 1793 )
They contained a pay house, or office, a blacksmith's shop where picks were sharpened and candleholders forged, horses shod and machinery repaired.
Pits and timbering cut nearby gave the name to Chiphouse Road.
The new level which drained the pits was almost 2 miles long and emptied into the brook at "Made for Ever" (Kingswood ).
A gang broke into the house of Mrs Farthing in Guinea Street, Bristol and a considerable amount of the property stolen there from was discovered in a lodging house at Lawrence Hill, hidden in the hollow of the hobs of the grate.
Edmund Sweet, aged 24, of St George was convicted of burglary at the house of Elizabeth Pallin and executed at Gloucester the following 16th April.
Inquests: on John Coleman, labourer, killed during a fight with Charles Breddy alias Bassett, when a blow to the neck below the left ear caused Coleman's instant death.
Breddy was sent for trial at the next Gloucester Assizes accused of manslaughter.
Both men came from Stapleton.
And on Samuel Smith, a coalminer at Mr Samuel Tippett's works at Upper Easton, St George who was killed falling down the pit, which seems partially confirmed by one of the rare newspaper announcements: "Yesterday night, a young man of about 19 was killed at the coalworks at Lower Easton by part of the pit falling in on him".
William Iles, aged 16, going into a coalpit, 80 fathoms deep at Mangotsfield fell out of the cart to the bottom.
He was bruised in a most shocking manner and died instantly.
A man reaping in a field in Hanham, being much fatigued lay down and slept under a hedge when ( it is supposed ) a viper bit him under one of his eyes, in consequence of which his head swelled in a very extraordinary manner and he died in a few days.
Two men were killed at Bitton when part of a coalpit fell in ( names not known ).
Inquest taken on John Williams, 33, at the Coach and Horses, ( public house ) St Philip's who fell and broke his neck at a dwelling house belonging to Mr John Mathew.
( It was not revealed if "Christmas Cheer" had anything to do with the tragedy. It is remarkable that coroner William Joyner Ellis worked on Christmas Day. )
1791 17th January
On this day, Benjamin Brain, a Kingswood collier became champion of the English Prize Ring by beating the holder Tom Johnson at Wrotham in Kent.
Ben, the son of Aaron Brain was christened at Bitton on 28th November 1756. Known as "Big Ben" and sufficiently famous for his surname to be dropped altogether he was of relatively moderate size by today's standards, being 5 feet eleven inches tall and weighing 14 stones.
He was a mild good looking fellow, sociable in his demeanour, never presuming on his qualities as a boxer and who never let a day go by without reading his Bible.
In 1774 he beat Bob Harris, his fellow collier, the champion of Kingswood and then Jack Clayton, the Shropshire Champion. Success followed on success and in 1786 he triumphed over Ned Boone, "the fighting Grenadier"; in 1788, overcame Corbally, the Irish Champion and the next year Jack Jacombs succumbed at Banbury.
He came to the notice of the Prince of Wales, later George IV when he beat Tom Tring, a 17 stone porter at Carlton House.
The prince bet heavily on the fight.
Ben's next bout was a farce.
He put down Bill Hooper in the first round, though Hooper was able to stagger to his knees.
Whenever Ben moved towards him, he sank down to a squatting position.
His orders were to save the fight under any circumstances ? this nonsense continued over three and a half hours and because in those days fights had to conclude with a knock out of either man, the match was eventually judged a draw ?.
Even with this setback, "the Fancy" had spied a worthy challenger to the Champion of England, Tom Johnson and a match was made with Ben sponsored by the Duke of Hamilton.
About 20,000 people surged round the open air raised platform.
A mighty roar went up as the protagonists entered the ring, with the Duke, in Ben's corner, splendidly clad in Russian sables.
They were evenly matched as to height and weight, though at 38, Ben was the elder by six years.
Challenger knocked down champion in the first and second but in the third round, was put down himself.
The slogging continued, blow for blow until the 18th when a final punch from Ben knocked the champion senseless.
A few days later, showing that he had not become over proud, he acted as a second in a bout between Ward and Mendoza.
So the championship came to Bristol where it would remain for eighteen years.
( Henry Pearce, Jem Belcher, Tom Cribb and John Gully ) were all born in or around Bristol.
Ben Brain rested on his laurels after his bout with Johnson for lack of a challenger but was coaxed out of retirement to fight William Wood.
The fight was cancelled due to Ben's illness and he died on April 8th, 1794, still undefeated.
1792 9th January
An inquest was held at the New Inn, ( public house ) St Philip & St Jacob on the body of Thomas Ayers, labourer, who died at a Malt house after falling 7 feet, to his death.
Two bodies were found in a Bitton field, a man and a boy, supposed drowned by the sudden overflowing of the River Avon.
On Thursday, a lad named Benjamin Smith about 14 years of age who had been trusted to take care of a loaded waggon through Kingswood by some means fell from the waggon which went over him in so dreadful a manner that no hopes are entertained for his recovery.
An inquest taken at the Bell Inn, ( public House ) St Philip's where the death of the bastard child of Mary Edwards, singlewoman, was adjudged to be from natural causes.
A man travelling the country as a chaff cutter, was found dead in a coalpit at Two Mile Hill, supposedly in consequence of being in liquor ( drunk ).
Wednesday evening about 5 o'clock, a young child near four years old was taken away from her mother's door in St Philip's by a woman who sells matches about the city, who stripped it almost naked in the Rope Walk near Lawrence Hill and got off undiscovered.
Happily, a poor woman passing by took up the child and wrapped it in her apron, which was soon claimed by its disconsolate mother.
On Tuesday died at St George's in the 105th year of her age, Mary Clements, many years a pauper of that parish. She retained her senses to the last hour of her life.
John Wesley born 17th June 1703 at Epworth in Lincoinshire, died in London on this day.
He was the 15th child and second surviving son of his parents.
Short of stature and slim, with a fresh complexion and piercing eyes, he wore his hair, originally auburn, to his shoulders.
He was "practical and even tempered" and said "I am always in haste, never in a hurry".
He called himself "a Bible bigot" and believed in witchcraft - for "giving up witchcraft is giving up the Bible", Despite suffering from gout, he habitually slept on the floor, usually rising at four, though a contemporary remarked "If I had such a wife as Wesley's, I should get up at three" ?.
John Campling, a labourer, was found dead in a glass house at St Philip's. Verdict: Visitation of God.
Mary Greenwood, for many years a servant at the Cyder House Passage, a respectable public house, was taken, drowned, out of the river at Crew's Hole -and carried to her mother's house in Kingswood. Verdict of the Coroner: Lunacy.
Inquest at the Woolpack, ( public house ) St Philip's on John Cook, 18, who drowned at a brick pit in Pennywell Lane ( accident ).
Inquest at the New Inn, Lawford's Gate, on Sarah Cron, who was run over by a loaded cart; reported 1st October: "On Tuesday, a poor woman was run over by a coal cart on Lawrence Hill and killed on the spot.
She has left five helpless children to deplore her loss but we hope they will be cherished and protected by the humanitarian public".
Inquest at the Lamb Inn, outside Lawford's Gate on Samuel Jenkins, corkcutter who ended his life by blowing out his brains with a horse pistol, loaded with powder and shot. Verdict: Lunacy.
Thomas Burchill was killed in a coalpit and buried at Mangotsfield.
Inquest on a man known only as Joseph, who was found dead in Wilcox's Glass House, St Philip's, where he had gone to sleep. Verdict: inclemency of the weather.
1793 13th January
Inquest on Abraham Newton, run over by a cart near Baptist Mills.
John Alsop was killed in a coalpit and buried at Westerleigh.
Inquest on John Lewis, burnt to death in a lime kiln at St Philip's.
Inquest on Edith Dorrington, widow aged about 70, who hanged herself in the Quaker's Poor House, where she had lived 20 years. Verdict: lunacy.
Inquest on Susannah Slagg, 27, who drowned herself in the river near Pennywell Road. Verdict: Lunacy.
Inquest at the Cherry Orchard, St George, on Edward Fox, labourer, aged 26 who fell from a hayloft, receiving a violent contusion of the brain from which he lingered three days.
Memorandum of an agreement in respect of a lease from John Woodward to Richard Haynes, Isaac Jefferis and Samuel Jefferis for coalmining on four closes called larygold Lease, Rush, Coldbailys, the Grove and Culbrooks in Siston/Bridgeyate.
Sarah Packer, wife of Robert Packer, the landlady of the Lyon Inn at St Philip's was killed when she fell down the steps into a cellar at her own pub.
James Hum, a waterman, fell from a barge, "The Bath Carrier" and was drowned in the River Avon near Crew's Hole.
1794 3rd February
Inquest on a new born female infant found drowned.
"Murder by person or persons unknown".
An inquest was held at the Ring of Bells, ( public house ) Coalpit Heath on James Tanner, a coalminer aged 57, killed by a roof fall whilst he was at work with his brother.
He was buried at Westerleigh.
Another inquest, this time on James Tovey, who languished for two hours from head injuries after a rock fall as he was ascending Serridge Pit.
He was buried at Westerleigh.
Inquest at the Horseshoe, ( public house ) Downend on William Vinterson, labourer, 50, run over by a cart.
Inquest at the house of James Purnell, the Pip Horse, ( public house ) St George, on Sampson Jenkins, aged 3, who drowned in a pool near Mr Jenkins's, the Officer of Excise, ( presumably no relation ).
Inquest at the Full Moon, ( public house ) Stapleton, on a new born child of Sarah Monks, singlewoman.
Verdict: murder. Sarah was committed to Gloucester Gaol but acquitted at the next Assizes, 17th July, in which she was more fortunate than most.
Inquest on the body of an unknown man, found drowned, held at the house of Mr Crinks, the Lamb Inn, ( public house ) Crew's Hole.
Inquests: On William Searle, aged 9, of the Poor House, St Philips, drowned and on 28th August at Crew's Hole, and John Bell the younger, 12, suffocated at Mr Evans's limekiln at 4 am on the 27th.
Bristol Tollgate Riot: 51 people by name and parish who were injured, some so severely, they had since died.
Two Kingswood people at least were there: Charles Coole, aged 25 of Bitton, who received a gunshot wound in the abdomen and William Horwood of St George, aged 20, shot in the groin and hand, An inquest jury first brought in a verdict of "wilful murder by the person who ordered the military to fire" which the coroner refused to accept and "murder by person or persons unknown" was substituted.
Inquests on William Witt, 13, of St George killed by falling into a coalpit at Lower Easton and on Martha Edwards, 6, resident of the Poor House, St Philips, burnt to death when her clothes went on fire.
1795 1st January
On Saturday last as several boys were at play round the mouth of a coalpit at Bitton, where they were roasting crab apples, one William Bush ran away with one of the apples which did not belong to him and the other boys pursuing him with such velocity that he fell into the pit and lived only four hours after he was taken out.
And on the same day: A few days ago, a man in the same parish and near the same place on receiving a skip of coal, fell 42 yards perpendicular and was instantly killed.
Three French prisoners who had escaped from Stapleton were found at Kingsmead, near Bath and taken to Bath prison.
More speculation at the diggings: John Bryant, William Jay, Robert Long, coalminer, James Bush, Robert Brown, Isaac Ship, John White, Jacob White, William Britton and Edward Taylor each made an encroachment and enclosed part of the common waste at Oldland.
All to get off or be fined.
There were now 1,031 French prisoners at Stapleton, with up to a hundred in hospital.
The marriage of the widowed vicar of Bitton, Rev Mr Elwes to Mrs Naylor of Park Street, Bristol, the widow of Mr John Naylor "an eminent distiller of this city".
died at his house in Kingswood, Mr John Vaulton, many years a preacher among the people called Methodists.
Inquest at the Queen's Head, ( public house ) Hanham on William Summers, the son of a quarrier, John Summers, drowned in the river Avon.
At The Jolly Sailor, St George, a public house kept by Mr Roach, an inquest on a coalminer, Solomon Legg, aged 12, who drowned by the bursting of water at the pit.
His father and brother working near the mouth were saved.
There was a major "incident" at Stapleton.
About a hundred of the prisoners who were in "the sick ward" rose on.
their guards. In the melee the guard were obliged to open fire and nine prisoners escaped.
Several were immediately recaptured but the rest remained at large.
An inquest held at the dwelling house of James Pick, of Hinton, on "the body of a male bastard child born of the body of Hannah Webley, servant to Mr Pick".,br> The verdict was wilful murder and Hannah was taken to Gloucester Gaol.
At the next assizes she was found guilty and executed.
Three of the escaped prisoners were caught at Newhaven in Sussex as they were about to embark for France "in a boat they had fixed upon".
William Bryant, coalminer, aged 14 of Oldland, killed by falling into Soundwell Pit whilst at his work.
Lively Grove, a glassman, drowned at Crew's Hole, when bathing with two friends.
Robert Bide, a quarryman died falling down Gold Hill Quarry, Mangotsfield.
Inquest on a male bastard child, at Codrington, supposed suffocated. Ann Bartlett, singlewoman, the mother, was taken to Gloucester Gaol, accused of wilful murder.
She was found guilty at the next assizes and executed.
Inquest at The Horseshoe, ( public house ) Downend, on Charles Burchill, aged 29, of Mangotsfield who was killed in a roof fall at one of Charles Bragge's pits.
Edward Tyler, a cordwainer, was found dead on the highway, near the Flower Pot Inn at Kingswood. An inquest at the Queen's Head, ( public house ) Hanham, decided there had been a visitation of God.
Charles Provist aged 8, was killed when broke his neck at a coalpit in Pucklechurch Park.
Samuel Pettygrove Reed, aged 9, was killed by falling to the bottom of Soundwell Pit at 1 o'clock in the night.
William Jennings, aged 27, died from a fracture of the skull when he fell about 150 feet down a pit at Westerleigh. He was buried there the day following the inquest.
1796 26th January
Inquest on Samuel Vilkinson, found dead in Lawford's Gate Bridewell.
Little Nary Loreton, aged 6 ran an errand to Moses Sweet Shop at Mangotsfield for a half-penny worth of milk and was killed by a waggon wheel falling on her head.